Originally posted 2008-11-17 00:01:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter
Unsuccessful state House candidate Roger Byrge is suing Republican Rep. Stacey Campfield for libel.
Byrge, a Democrat who lost his East Tennessee race by fewer than 400 votes, filed the $750,000 lawsuit against Campfield in Jacksboro this week. The lawsuit alleges that Campfield, of Knoxville, falsely wrote on his blog that Byrge had been arrested several times on drug charges. â€¨Campfield said he has not seen the lawsuit. He said he was only repeating what he had heard about Byrge, and that he was not presenting it as a fact.
An AP report fleshes out the matter of this “not quite a fact” defense some more:
In the Oct. 12 blog post, Campfield said more attention needed to be paid to the race for the open seat in House District 36.
“Word is a … mail piece has gone out exposing Byrge’s multiple separate drug arrests,” Campfield wrote on the blog. “Including arrests for possession and drug dealing. (I hear the mug shots are gold).”
The parts of the post mentioning Byrge are no longer on Campfield’s blog, but a printout of the original text is filed as an exhibit in the lawsuit.
Campfield said Thursday that he was only repeating what he had heard from others.
“I don’t think it ever presents anything as fact,” he said. “I know a little bit about the First Amendment, and I just don’t see him having a basis for damages.”
It would appear that Campfield does know a very little bit about the First Amendment, and even less about the law of defamation. The recent Ohio Supreme Court case of Jackson v. Ohio addresses this narrow question succinctly. Ohio law is not particularly different from the law of most states in this regard, constrained as the states are by the high standard of U.S. Supreme Court decisions applying the First Amendment to such cases (internal quotations and citations omitted). Indeed this decision is based almost entirely on U.S. Supreme Court precedent: Read More…